Mary Halvorson is a guitarist/composer living in New York. She plays with many many groups, including her great duo with musician Jessica Pavone, another great duo with drummer Kevin Shea called People, various groups with sax legend Anthony Braxton, and various groups with trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum among others. She has developed an actual individual voice on guitar, and continues using it in a very wide variety of settings. The latest is the Mary Halvorson Trio with drummer Ches Smith and bassist John Hebert. They have a new record coming this October on Firehouse 12 Records. Check out their webpage for some song previews:
1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?
I got into creative/improvised music through listening to and studying jazz and branching out from there. I am interested in all types of music and what keeps me here is the exploration of creativity and something new, regardless of genre.
2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?
The Beach Boys was the first cassette tape I bought (age 5). I consider that pretty important. And every Jimi Hendrix album. And Miles Davis Kind of Blue, John Coltrane Blue Trane and a Thelonious Monk compilation (those were the first jazz albums I ever bought). Also Wayne Shorter The Soothsayer. More recently… Yusef Lateef Live at Pep’s, an Etta James box set, everything by Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers. Oh and Rock Bottom by Robert Wyatt changed my life.
3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?
I don’t think they do in a direct way, but definitely on a more subconscious level. I enjoy visual art and deeply regret that I have no talent for it myself.
4: Favorite Film(s)?
I discovered David Lynch late in life so I’m going through that now. Wild at Heart might be my favorite at the moment.
5: Favorite Film Score(s)?
Hmm. I know this is lame but I’m not sure I have one!
6: Favorite Fiction Reading?
Haruki Murakami— I’ve read everything– and George Simenon/ Inspector Maigret murder mysteries (I’m working on reading everything). I like to find one thing and become so obsessed that I completely exhaust it. I do that with music listening too.
7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?
I read a lot of astrology textbooks (again, exhausting it).
8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?
Maybe something will pop into my head later, but I just scrolled through my iPod and I don’t think there’s anything in there that I feel guilty about. Honestly. I feel guilty about plenty of other things, but not music! I do hate Steely Dan though. A lot. That seems to be everyone else’s guilty pleasure.
9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?
Lenny Breau. Jason Cady.
10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?
Matthew Welch, Judith Berkson, Jason Cady, Jessica Pavone, Jeremiah Cymerman, Anthony Braxton, Charlie Looker/ Extra Life, John Hebert, Kevin Shea, Tomas Fujiwara, Ches Smith, Michael Attias, Trevor Dunn, Reuben Radding, Jeff Parker, Matt Moran, Matana Roberts, Curtis Hasselbring, Taylor Ho Bynum, Okkyung Lee, Brian Chase, John Dieterich, Jim Black, Matt Bauder, Devin Hoff, Nasheet Waits, Tony Malaby, Jason Moran, Oscar Noriega, Chris Speed, Tatsuya Nakatani, Jacob Garchik, Nate Wooley, Mick Barr, Robbie Lee, Tim Berne, Marc Ribot, Nat Baldwin, Peter Evans, Ted Reichman, Weasel Walter… I have a strong feeling that I’m forgetting someone really important…